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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

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A Foreign Secretary once complained that, while he,
for his part, was only trying to be helpful, Professor
Temperley (as one of the editors of the British Documents)
persisted in treating him as though he were a hostile
Power. Certainly it is possible for the historian to be
unnecessarily militant, and even a little ungracious in
his militancy; but what a satisfaction it is to the student
if he can be sure that his interests have been guarded
with unremitting jealousy ! And if we employ a watch-
dog (which is the function the independent historian
would be expected to perform on our behalf), what an
assurance it is to be able to feel that we are served by
one whom we know to be vigilant and unsleeping 1
The ideal, in this respect, would certainly not be
represented by the picture of a Professor Temperley
and a Foreign Secretary as thick as thieves, each merely
thinking the other a jolly good fellow ; for the historian
who is collecting evidenceóand particularly the historian
who pretends as an independent authority to certify the
documents or verify the claims of a government depart-
mentómust be as jealous and importunate as the cad
of a detective who has to find the murderer amongst
a party of his friends: One of the widest of the general
causes of historical error has been the disposition of a
Macaulay to recognise in the case of Tory witnesses a
need for historical criticism which it did not occur to
him to have in the same way for the witnesses on his
own side. Nothing in the whole of historiography is
more subtly dangerous than the natural disposition to
withhold criticism because John Smith belongs to one's
own ckde or because he is a nice man, so that it seems